Pain is a common malady and veterans have a higher rate of chronic pain than non-veterans. In part fueled by the current opioid epidemic, the Department of Veterans Affairs has adopted a wider range of integrative medicine, including acupuncture.
Approximately four years ago, an easily-learned subset of auricular acupuncture developed by the Department of Defense, battlefield acupuncture (BFA), was introduced into the VA Connecticut Healthcare System for patients with acute or chronic pain. A 2018 publication in Medical Acupuncture out of VA Connecticut showed that 82 percent of patients in more than 750 patient-encounters had an immediate decrease in pain. See Related Documents for the publication. More recently, BFA being offered for those unwilling to undergo needle punctures; both registered nurses and LPN’s are being taught this technique.
Due to both its success and popularity, a weekly shared medical appointment was started three years ago in West Haven and has even been featured on WTNH News 8. Anywhere from 15 to 25 veterans are treated weekly in a 90-minute session. The first 30 minutes are led by a health psychologist or nutritionist to teach these patients some skills that they can actively use to non-pharmacologically deal with pain. Needling is then done by one attending physician and a gero-psychiatry fellow. Several patients have decreased their pharmacologic pain treatments after starting BFA.
If you have a patient that might benefit from BFA, contact Lysette Gabriel, LPN, or Pasquale DeLuca at 203-932-5711, x8916.